American’s View Of Obama More Polarized Than Ever

Gallup reports that American’s views of President Obama are more politically polarized than they have been for any previous President, although George W. Bush isn’t very far behind:

PRINCETON, NJ — Thus far in October, an average of 90% of Democrats, and 8% of Republicans, approve of the job Barack Obama is doing as president. That 82-percentage-point gap in approval ratings by party is on pace to be the largest Gallup has measured for a recent incumbent president in the final month before Americans vote on his re-election. George W. Bush had an 80-point party gap in approval, while the October gaps for other presidents were less than 70 points.

Gallup did not routinely ask presidential approval in October for presidents prior to Ronald Reagan. But Obama’s ratings throughout his first three years in office have been among the most polarized Gallup has measured for any president.

Obama’s already highly polarized ratings are becoming even more so in his fourth year in office. Thus far, his ratings have averaged 85% among Democrats and 10% among Republicans, for a 75-point gap. That compares with gaps averaging 68 points during his second and third years in office and 65 points during his first.

That is not unexpected, as Gallup has typically found presidents’ ratings to be most polarized by party in their fourth year in office, which is normally the year they seek re-election to a second term. But ratings of recent presidents are far more politically divided than those of less recent presidents.

Indeed, President Obama and his predecessor have had the most polarized job approval numbers of any recent President, including Nixon:

Lyndon Johnson’s numbers are interesting, only a 23 point gap between Republicans and Democrats on average, but I suspect a good deal of that can be ascribed to the fact that he was President during a war that Republicans were generally supportive of so they were willing to cut him some slack when it came to social programs and other matters.

As for Obama, and Bush, I think this gives us our best example yet of just how much each side of the political battle have dug themselves into their own trenches. If Obama is re-elected, you can guarantee that Republican attitudes toward him will remain the same, and if Romney wins you’ll see Democratic opinion about him reach the same low levels it did during the Bush Administration. Bipartisanship? Don’t even try to pretend it exists.

FILED UNDER: Barack Obama, Politicians, Public Opinion Polls, Quick Takes, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Eric Florack says:

    actually, I would make the argument that America’s view of Obama is more Unified that it’s been since his election. the Republicans in the independents view him and his policies negatively.

  2. Eric Florack says:

    and indepentsi i mean, of course

  3. john personna says:

    I started GWB’s first term as an apolitical Republican. I ended his first term as a critical RINO. I ended his second term as a critical independent. I think I had rational reasons for that transition, principal among them the bill of goods leading to the Iraq war.

    I realize it is outside my current perspective, but I have a hard time seeing anything on that scale for current Republicans to be upset about with Obama. He is Bush III in so many ways. Sure they can hate the stimulus and bailouts, but to be zero tolerance on that is to go full Herbert Hoover. It is nonsensical.

    If Romney is elected I’ll give him a chance. I’ll even try to rustle up some hope, but it will only take one bill as bad as I fear to erase it. If you take the Romney’s worst answers across his flip-flops he makes a really extreme choice.

  4. stonetools says:

    Well, Obama still is black.

    Southern whites hugely dislike Obama, for a reason that seems obvious to me , and that’s driving a lot of this polarization.

    I agree that, contrary to the fondest imaginings of the old Beltway crowd, that bipartisanship is a thing of the past. The Southern strategy has completely shuffled the parties into a conservative party that is becoming more and more hard right and a liberal party that is centrist to left.

    If you want the federal government to do things, then you have to give your vote to one party or the other, and you can forget about bipartisan consensus. We now have a parliamentary system in all but name.

  5. mantis says:

    @Eric Florack:

    Unified that it’s been since his election. the Republicans in the independents view him and his policies negatively.

    Aww, bithead forgot to follow the link to look at the Gallup site, which shows he’s full of shit:

    Another key in determining Obama’s electoral fate may be which side of the 50% approval mark independent voters wind up on; they have been very near 50% approval in recent weeks.

  6. mantis says:

    And if you follow Gallup’s link for the numbers, you will find that in the latest poll Obama’s approval is indeed at 52% among independents.

    Florack, it is foolish to just make stuff up when one can just follow the link right in the post to the correct information. You’ve got to put a few degrees of separation in there. Make up some poll numbers and neglect to provide a link or forget which polling outfit they are from, that sort of thing.

  7. Liberal Capitalist says:

    I am shocked, SHOCKED ! that members of the GOP are SO polarized as they would not vote for President Obama.

    After all the love for him shown over the last 3 1/2 years in office, especially by the supporting GOP members of the House and Senate, I cannot BELIEVE how a thing like this could happen !

    And with such outpouring of love from the loyal opposition media, who hang on his every word…

    I am dumbfounded!

    ( … this just in ! The obvious ! Details at 11 ! )

  8. Geek, Esq. says:

    This just shows that his theme of “bringing people together” was doomed to be a failure.

    All the Republicans had to do was say “f@ck you” for four years straight and destroy the central element of his brand.

    Post-partisan unity stuff is a dead letter. The Republicans have figured this out. After Obama loses, you can certainly bet that the next Democratic nominees will adopt the Republicans approach to partisanship.

  9. Geek, Esq. says:

    @stonetools:

    Well, when we get rid of the filibuster we will. Until then, we have the divisiveness of a parliamentary system and the gridlock of divided government.

    With Democrats likely to hold the Senate, payback for what the Republicans did to Obama should be the priority.

  10. Tsar Nicholas says:

    This makes abundant sense.

    The Democrat Party since Chicago ’68 slowly but surely has morphed from what it once was (Truman, JFK, tax cuts, strong military, you mess with us we kick your ass, American exceptionalism) to an effeminate party of pure demographic identities. Now the schisms in American society via leftism as policy have metastasized into a cancer upon the body politic. Politically speaking not only are we more divided than ever we’re now divided specifically by occupations, incomes, sources of incomes, wealth, union status, location, age, gender, marital status and race.

    Things have gotten so FUBAR because of identity-based politics you know in advance who supports Obama and who doesn’t support Obama. You know in advance who’ll be voting for Obama and who’ll be voting for Romney.

    If you’re an adult who works in the private sector and you’re white then you’ll be voting for Romney. If you’re a young kid still in school you’ll be voting for Obama. If you’re a single female living downtown somewhere you’ll be voting for Obama. If you’re a married woman living in the burbs you’ll be voting for Romney. If you’re a government clerical worker you’ll be voting for Obama. If you’re a retired store manager you’ll be voting for Romney. If you’re a UAW member fired from your job and living on extended unemployment benefits you’ll be voting for Obama. If you’re a machinist in a non-union shop in a right to work state you’ll be voting for Romney. So on, so forth.

    This is not conducive to long-term success for a pluralistic republic. It won’t end well. Not unless we radically change course. If the U.S. were a stock I’d be short selling it.

  11. Liberal Capitalist says:

    Seriously…

    Is this at all a surprise to ANYONE here on this board?

    During the Bush administration, the “loyal 28%” had to stick their fingers in their ears and say la-la-la-la-la for nearly 8 years, ignoring the fact of the wars and deficit spending that the GOP did.

    And then, with the election of President Obama, the GOP Machine had to work furiouslyy to get everyone to believe that the econonic collapse was President Obama’s and the DEM’s doing

    The GOP rank-and-file have been fed dis-information for so long, they now believe whatever the spin of the day is.

    And they know with an election the correct answer is “No!” to any question (no matter what) .

    Not surprisingly, teh DEM’s have rallied to support teh President against teh flat earth GOP.

    I used to be disgusted…

  12. Lib Cap says:

    Off-Topic…

    I can’t wait until Microsoft gets a spell check into IE.

    I can spell, but my fingers appear to be dyslexic.

  13. Jeremy says:

    @john personna: You realize that Herbert Hoover formed the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, which bailed out companies left and right, right?

    http://econlog.econlib.org/archives/2008/11/hoover_sings_hi.html

  14. Jeremy says:

    What surprises me the most is that Carter only had a 29-point spread himself. I hear all the time how Republicans and conservatives thought he was the second coming of Jesus Satan, or something, and Obama is so bad he’s “worse than Carter, if you can believe that.” That’s what really surprises me. Any thoughts as to why it’s the second-closest?

  15. john personna says:

    @Jeremy:

    OK, then Teas are worse than Herbert Hoover.

  16. grumpy realist says:

    @Tsar Nicholas: I see that you think calling the Democratic Party “effeminate” is an insult.

    Why?

  17. Liberal Capitalist says:

    @Tsar Nicholas:

    If you’re an adult who works in the private sector and you’re white then you’ll be voting for Romney.

    Bulls#it.

    I’m a relatively-rich older white guy in the private sector, living on my estate in the hinterlands…I have rental properties and I drive way too fast in cars that cost too much to justify. Not the 1%, but well in the 10%

    And I’m voting Obama.

    Just because you self-justify and project your personal tendencies on others, it doesn’t make it so.

    Remember: It’s only the BITTER old white guys that are voting for Romney.

    (Ex: Just look at Eric’s picture… Need I say more?)

  18. mantis says:

    @Tsar Nicholas:

    If you’re an adult who works in the private sector and you’re white then you’ll be voting for Romney.

    Wrong. 30s, married, white, professional, private sector, voting for Obama. So are most of my friends who are in the same categories.

  19. An Interested Party says:

    After Obama loses, you can certainly bet that the next Democratic nominees will adopt the Republicans approach to partisanship.

    Umm, aren’t you being a bit premature?

    …to an effeminate party of pure demographic identities.

    This from someone who is part of the crowd that are whining and crying like weak little wounded creatures because Joe Biden had the nerve to push back against their little golden boy…

    If the U.S. were a stock I’d be short selling it.

    And if you had a job that included any kind of professional writing, you would have been fired by now because of your pathetic, repetitive drivel…

  20. anjin-san says:

    If you’re an adult who works in the private sector and you’re white then you’ll be voting for Romney.

    I’m a 53 year old white guy, 10%er currently a consultant who works directly with CEO’s & company principals for the most part. I own two homes in the most expensive real estate market in the country (paid cash for one). All around solid citizen.

    Hell no, I won’t be voting for Romney. I know quite a few people more successful than I that feel the same way.

  21. swbarnes2 says:

    @Tsar Nicholas:

    If you’re an adult who works in the private sector and you’re white then you’ll be voting for Romney… If you’re a single female living downtown somewhere you’ll be voting for Obama.

    At last, Tsar has found what conservatives have been looking for for so long, evidence of voter fraud! All those white single women working in the private sector simply must be voting twice!

    Or, conservatives think that there is no such thing as a female adult; that all women are moral children. I think the evidence supporting that is pretty solid.

    Of course, any scheme that has the military voting in lockstep for Democrats just becuase their paycheck comes from the federal government should be mocked a lot, for being so patently absurd.

  22. Janis Gore says:

    Damn. I’m a widowed Texan living in Podunk, LA, surrounded by a 30% black population, and if you think I’m voting for those sexually deranged reactionary Republicans, you’re off your rocker, your excellency.

  23. Janis Gore says:

    Unless, of course, they send these boots (8 medium) to me before election day.

  24. Tony W says:

    I believe the trend has nothing to do with the actual presidents, and more to do with the ever increasing ability to surround onesself with “me too” news.

    We no longer passively hear dissenting views. Centrism is no longer rewarded or valued. Media outlets pit one radical partisan against another for “both sides” rather than taking the traditional PBS-approach of two centrists discussing rational, but differing, points of view. Largely centrist, intelligent political sites like OTB get perhaps 1% of the viewership of sites like Breitbart and Daily Kos.

    Even when my safely remote Facebook “friends” aggresively display their political views – I don’t respond or react because I don’t want to be perceived to be the jackass they are – only their fellow jackasses respond which, unfortunately, makes those views appear to be mainstream.

    I am genuinely concerned about the trend, and have no idea what to do about it.

  25. Davebo says:

    If you’re an adult who works in the private sector and you’re white then you’ll be voting for Romney.

    Is that what the adults told you? Cause they sometime lie you know… Santa, Tooth Fairy, Supply Side Economics. Those sorts of things.

  26. Rafer Janders says:

    If you’re an adult who works in the private sector and you’re white then you’ll be voting for Romney.

    Middle-aged white Wall Street finance professional, voting for Obama. As are most of my colleagues and friends.

  27. Rafer Janders says:

    If you’re an adult who works in the private sector and you’re white then you’ll be voting for Romney… If you’re a single female living downtown somewhere you’ll be voting for Obama.

    Telling, isn’t it, that in his mind there’s no overlap between the categories of “adult” and “single female”?

    Also, too: “female” and “male” are adjectives, not nouns.

  28. Tony W says:

    Ooh, I’ll play too. 3-4%’er, professional, white, mail, middle-aged, voting for Obama. To be fair, I live on the left-coast….

  29. Tony W says:

    crap – make that “Male” – and apparently not too highly educated 🙂

  30. KansasMom says:

    I am a married mom in rural Kansas, late 30’s college educated, white collar job holder before going back to school for a second degree, married to a early 40’s, East Texas raised, blue collar, self-employed, non-union laborer who owns 7 guns and is out hunting at this very moment. We will be proudly voting the entire Democratic ticket.

    Take your stereotypes and shove ’em Nick.

  31. bill says:

    of course it’s hard to admit your candidate hasn’t lived up to his promises, but he hasn’t and needs to go away. the “on the job training” only works for a year, maybe two.
    throwing the race card is also idiotic as a small % on each side vote their prejudices….each side, remember that.
    obama has said that he can’t work with a republican congress and they’ll be republican for several years at least- so 4 more years of nothingness is what he’s promising.

  32. Janis Gore says:

    @bill: Are you sexually deranged, Bill?

    Would you rather try sticking your fingers in my panties than deal with serious issues?

    If not, try disciplining your party.

  33. matt says:

    @Lib Cap: Firefox baby! Comes with a built in spell checker. Runs faster then IE and with the proper add ons is safer then chrome..

    Poor white male college student in his 30s here and I will be voting Obama. My wife will be too..

  34. al-Ameda says:

    Republicans are completyely responsible for the deranged hyper partisan political environment. Obama is governing as a centrist Democrat, while Republicans characterize him as a marxist.

    Electing Romney would be rewarding the party that presided over the worst economic crash since Hoover and the Great Depression. The GOP has done everything in its power to block Obama and to create failure in oder to bring Obama down.

  35. swbarnes2 says:

    Republican Mark Sanford practically called Obama a spearchucker tpday.

    But remember, it’s blacks who are racist for refusing to vote for the party that eats that stuff up, and James Joyner is going to fix all that from the inside, after voting all these wonderful guys in to postions of political power.